• Published 19th Oct 2012
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Eljunbyro - Imploding Colon



Bellesmith must perform experimental tasks in order to keep herself and her beloved safe.

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Wooly Hate

The blue manafield danced with rivulets of disrupted energy from the creatures' lunging paws. With drooling snarls, no less than half a dozen manticores prowled the edges of the fence, slamming and butting their mangy crowns against the barrier at random intervals.

In the glistening afternoon haze, several guards looked on from the inner ring of Blue Shelf. The unicorns' eyes narrowed on the rampaging beasts and their constant, bone-headed test of the defense field.

"Yeesh," one Enforcer muttered to another as they strolled up to the base of a concrete pillar. He had to speak loudly over the sound of a throttling zeppelin overhead. "What's their problem? It's like something's gotten into the air!"

"They always get rowdy when there's a shift change," the other guard muttered, examining his floating taser rod as the two approached the door to the facility's stone entrance. "They know that at this time of the day, ponies file in and out of this place."

"You mean they used to," the first guard remarked, adjusting his beret. "There're fewer and fewer going through the door each day. Just what the hay's going on down there?"

"Beats me, not that I care," the other grumbled. "So long as I get plenty of bits to send home to my beloved. Which reminds me. Did you hear about—?"

"Shhh..." The first nudged the other one and pointed down the mountain path. "Don't look down, but here comes wooly."

"Ugh... I hate wooly."

"Hey! Wooly!" The first guard smirked, swinging his taser about with telekinetic whimsy. "Why the long face? Woke up on the wrong side of the shears this morning?"

"Hahahaha!"

Grinder frowned, sweating as he hauled a heavy wagon full of rattling materials up the central path of Blue Shelf. "Keep talkin', pretty boy."

"Ooooh... Tough ram." There was another splash of mana; the sounds of raging manticores echoed throughout the pine trees beyond the fence. "Hey." The guard pointed behind him with a smirk. "I'll pay you twenty bits to let yourself get tossed over the barrier and have the manticores chase you for one hundred yards."

"Paint a picture of your face on my butt, and they won't even bother to chase me."

The other guard laughed, much to the first's frowning displeasure.

Straightening his beret, the young Enforcer marched up to Grinder and nudged his hovering manacart. "Look, didn't you haul a bunch of crud out of here yesterday?"

"What of it?"

"Why the return trip so soon? Don't you have farm duty back at the village? Crops to grow or something?"

"If I wanted to bloom roses, I'd just take a crap," Grinder hissed. "Which I just might do downstairs, thank you very much—" He made to move past the guard.

"Hey! Not so fast!" The guard yanked at the ram's cart with telekinesis. "I'm not done talking yet!"

"You'll sure as heck be done once Shell rips your tongue out for delaying a supply order for pickaxes!" Grinder spat. His eyes narrowed. "Or would you like me to drag you instead so you can find out first-hoof what Shell would have his grunts work on down there?"

The guard bit his lip, fidgeting.

The other leaned in and murmured, "You're better off with the manticores..."

The first one sighed, turned, and whistled to another set of guards. They nodded and pulled a lever alongside the concrete building. The doors slid open, revealing a metal elevator car.

"Go do your stuff, ram," the guard muttered. "If hauling junk is all you're good at, who am I to give a crap?"

"Thanks." Grinder said, then nodded his horns towards the hissing manticores. "Good luck with your girlfriends."

The guard did a double-take, his cheeks flashing red as his partner chuckled once more. They trotted towards a nearby bunker while Grinder made his way into the elevator car. He pulled a lever from the inside, and the doors slit with a loud rattling noise. Then, under the hum of mana, the elevator dropped swiftly down the black shaft.

After a deep breath, Grinder leaned back and spoke in a low murmur to the cart behind him.

"We're descending..."

The tarp stirred, and then a golden face peered nervously out from beneath the canvas material. "We made it past the guards?"

"You say that like it's a friggin' hard thing to do..."

"Oh thank you, Grinder!" Belle beamed, still whispering for whispering's sake. "You have no idea what this means to me—"

"Don't thank me yet, girl," Grinder grumbled, staring at the floors flashing past him. "They're taking us to the Black Level."

"Black Level?" Belle raised an eyebrow. She stirred nervously in the back of the cart as the tools around her rattled from the rapid descent. "But... But there's no such floor listed in the Facility's Registry!"

"That's because only a few ponies know about it," Grinder said. "And those who are allowed to know are threatened within an inch of their horns."

Belle gulped. "Or their beloveds?"

Grinder's nostrils flared; he said nothing.

"Grinder, what you're doing for me, it... it means a lot. And..."

"Don't pretend like this is something you can repay me for," Grinder said, glancing over his wooly shoulder. "Because you can't. Odds are, we're all gonna get a swift buck in the flank for this—and it will end up with our brains all over the concrete walls of this crappy-flank hole in the mountain."

"If I can just somehow get us to Beta Level," Belle murmured. "I can access security, and it should show me where Pilate is hiding."

"And then you're getting the heck out of here, right?"

Belle bit her lip, hesitating to speak.

Grinder saw it, and he rolled his eyes. "Whatever." He looked ahead. "I can only get you so far. If you wanna get to Beta Level, you're gonna have to get help from somepony else."

"Like who?" Belle asked.

"Take a pick," Grinder grunted, and just then the elevator slowed as a pair of doors opened to the sounds of heavy labor and anguished breaths.

Belle hid, shivering, as the cart drew forward into a detestable heat.

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